From sherry to merry: Mockingbird Hill transforms into Christmas pop-up bar

Need to shake the “bah-humbugs” from your vocabulary? All you need is a trip to Mockingbird Hill. The Shaw bar is overloaded with holiday cheer.

A D.C. bar decks its halls to the extreme for the holidays

WTOP's Rachel Nania | November 30, -0001 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON — Need to shake the “bah-humbugs” from your vocabulary? All you need is a trip to Mockingbird Hill.

Through Dec. 24, the Shaw-based Spanish-style bar is shifting its focus from “sherry” to “merry” with its Christmas pop-up bar Miracle on Seventh Street.

“It is one month-long holiday party,” says owner Derek Brown.

The pop-up features a menu of 10 holiday-themed cocktails, named after the season’s classic movies, and tasty bites typically served at seasonal soirees (think stuffed dates, ham biscuits, rosemary popcorn and charcuterie) — plus an ambience that will make you think you’re closer to the North Pole than North Capitol.

“The elves put all of this together,” says Brown about the décor, which includes everything from twinkle lights, to gold snowflakes and white pom-poms.

The idea for the temporary takeover came from Brown’s business partner Angie Salame and New York mixologist Greg Boehm. He implemented a similar — and very successful — Christmas pop-up last year at his bar Mace.

Salame says once she had the idea in her head, there was no turning back. It took months of planning and a team of 40 volunteers to transform the Shaw bar into a winter wonderland.

“I think that those people who love crafts and who love design, when they get in here, that’s the real wonderland. They get to see all of the details we put into it,” says Brown, referring to the homemade gingerbread house with Jolly Rancher stained-glass windows, the hand-painted fabric wrapping paper and the tiny handmade Santa hats that top gold-painted dinosaurs above the bar.

In the bar’s backroom, guests are greeted with a wall of blue lights and a dreidel chandelier. Brown calls this area “the Hanukkah hangout.”

“One of the reasons why we did this is because people want to get together with their friends, with their family, and that’s what bars are for anyway. At the end of the day, they’re not just places where people get drinks and pick up other people; they’re places where the community gathers,” Brown says.

And this year, he wants his bar to be the city’s holiday gathering place.

Brown says one of the most enjoyable aspects of designing the Christmas pop-up was coming up with the cocktail menu. He and his team pulled from their own traditions and memories for inspiration.

“For J.P., he has a British-Irish family so they do plum pudding. For me, it was candy canes and spiced cranberries … We all brought our different experiences to it,” Brown says.

The “Yippie Ki Yay, Motherf****r!!!,” named after a famous line in the movie “Die Hard,” is made with Trinidad rum, Cachaça, dry Curaçao, roasted chestnut orgeat and lime.

“You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out!” consists of blended Scotch, pisco, Drambuie, lemon curd, pistachio “orgeat” and gingerbread cream. And the “Mele Kalikimaka” is a blend of Amontillado and cream sherry, brandy, roasted plum syrup, bitters, spices, grapefruit and clarified milk.

“No Christmas party would be complete without a tiki volcano bowl,” Brown says about the Hawaiian cocktail. “It tastes very much like if you mixed Christmas and tiki together.”

[Get the recipe for one of Brown’s favorite featured cocktails, “I Don’t Mind You Shooting Me, Frank, But Take It Easy on the Rum,” below.]

Miracle on Seventh Street will also hold events throughout its run, such as “Singing Sundays,” “Christmas Craft Mondays” and “Holiday Movie Night Tuesdays.”

Have an ugly sweater you’re itching to wear? Saturday nights are your chance. And Brown and his team will dish out free Christmas cookies on Thursdays.

Miracle on Seventh Street is open Sunday and Monday from 5 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to 12:30 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.

I Don’t Mind You Shooting Me, Frank, But Take It Easy on the Rum
Rum, crème de menthe, lime, candy cane; courtesy Derek Brown

  • 1 ½ ounces of a really nice rum — Brown uses Chairman’s Reserve Silver
  • ½ ounce of overproof rum
  • ½ ounce of crème de menthe — Brown uses Tempus Fugit Crème de Menthe
  • ½ ounce simple syrup
  • ¾ ounce of fresh lime juice

Shake all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, strain into a daiquiri glass and serve with a candy cane.

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